Transforming Nursing Education: The Culturally Inclusive Environment

By Susan Dandridge Bosher, PhD, MA, and Margaret Dexheimer Pharris, PhD, RN, MPH, FAAN (Editors)
Springer Publishing Company, 2009
$50 (paperback)

For years, the nursing profession has been grappling with the issue of how to recruit, educate and graduate more racially, ethnically and culturally diverse nursing students. Everyone seems to agree that there’s a critical need for nursing schools to create more culturally inclusive learning environments and curricula, develop more culturally sensitive teaching methods and eliminate cultural barriers that can create unfair disadvantages for minority students. But how exactly do you do that? How can schools of nursing move beyond theoretical discussions to start developing actual programs for accomplishing these goals?

Transforming Nursing Education: The Culturally Inclusive Environment provides some long overdue answers to these questions. But be warned: This book is only for those institutions and educators who are seriously committed to change. The word “transform” means to markedly alter the form or nature of something, and Bosher and Pharris argue in their introduction that creating a more culturally inclusive environment will require making dramatic changes to the traditional culture and structure of nursing education as we know it. And that means coming to grips with thorny, uncomfortable issues like institutionalized racism, discrimination and whitecenteredness in the educational system.

For those who are up to the challenge, Bosher and Pharris have put together an anthology of essays from more than 20 culturally diverse leaders in education and nursing to help nursing schools redesign their curricular, pedagogical and structural systems to better meet the needs of multicultural students. Through case studies, practical examples and in-depth analysis of successful programs, the book provides a roadmap for creating a more welcoming environment for minority students and faculty, revamping traditional teaching methods to accommodate diverse learning styles, developing and teaching a culturally competent nursing curriculum, and removing cultural and linguistic barriers to student success.

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Transforming Nursing Education profiles many innovative programs that “model structural change,” including the Latino Nursing Career Opportunity Program at the Catholic University of America, the Recruitment/Retention of American Indians Into Nursing (RAIN) program at the University of North Dakota, the Students’ Test Anxiety Management Program (STAMP) at the College of St. Catherine and more. Each chapter concludes with specific recommendations for nursing educators and administrators.

Bosher and Pharris emphasize that Transforming Nursing Education is “not meant to be a cookbook approach to structural change but rather a stimulus for thought-provoking dialogue that will lead to concrete actions.” Because both that dialogue and those actions are so crucial to the future of the nursing in the 21st century, this landmark book is an invaluable resource and absolutely essential reading.

To order the book: Transforming Nursing Education: The Culturally Inclusive Environment can be ordered from Springer Publishing Company, 11 West 42nd Street, New York, NY 10036-8002, or online at

Real Nurses and Others: Racism in Nursing

By Tania Das Gupta, PhD
Fernwood Publishing, 2009
$15.95 (paperback)

The quote from author Tania Das Gupta that adorns the back cover of Real Nurses and Others: Racism in Nursing pulls no punches about what readers will find inside. “Most nurses of color experience everyday forms of racism, including being infantilized and marginalized,” she writes. “Most [nurses interviewed for the book] reported being ‘put down,’ insulted or degraded because of [their] race/ethnicity/color. A significant proportion of nurses, non-white and white, report having witnessed an incident where a nurse was treated differently because of his/her race/ethnicity/color.”

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Das Gupta is a Canadian sociologist and activist whose previous book, Racism and Paid Work, included a chapter on racial discrimination in Canada’s nursing workforce. Real Nurses and Others, which began as a study commissioned by the Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA)’s Racially Diverse Caucus, expands on this earlier research to present a full-length examination of systemic racism in nursing, based in part on surveys and interviews with nearly 600 ONA members, both minority and majority.

Although the book focuses exclusively on Canada, American readers—including nursing staff, managers, administrators and hospital diversity directors—can also learn much from Das Gupta’s analysis of the many subtle and not-so-subtle ways racial/ethnic discrimination manifests itself in today’s nursing workplace. For example, the title Real Nurses and Others refers to a black interviewee’s comment that white patients and family members routinely treated her as if she was a nursing assistant or aide rather than a “real” (i.e., white) nurse—a situation that all too many American nurses of color can relate to.

Das Gupta presents what she calls an “intersectional analytical framework” for understanding how and why workplace racism can occur in health care institutions. But Real Nurses and Others really comes alive when it focuses on the case studies and personal testimonials of the many nurses who reported experiencing discrimination from colleagues, managers, patients, doctors and others because of their race/ ethnicity. The book documents many examples of “everyday racism”—e.g., targeting, scapegoating, excessive monitoring and blaming the victim—as well as “how fear, lack of support, management collaboration, coworker harassment and ineffective institutional responses make it difficult for victims of racism to fight back.”

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The slim (128-page) book does have a few shortcomings. There is no research data on Aboriginal (First Nations) nurses, an admittedly small but still important part of Canada’s minority nursing workforce. And while Real Nurses and Others does an excellent job of discussing the problems of racism in nursing, I would have liked to see Das Gupta go one step further by proposing some recommendations and solutions. But all in all, this brave and provocative book makes fascinating reading—especially for those in the nursing profession who are not afraid to engage in honest dialogue about a serious issue that is all too often swept under the rug.

To order the book: Real Nurses and Others: Racism in Nursing can be ordered in the U.S. from Independent Publishers Group, 814 N. Franklin Street, Chicago, IL 60610, [email protected]. Canadian readers can order it directly from the publisher at

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